Thought for the day

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - OPINION - ALEX TABISHER

OH, THE com­fort, the in­ex­press­ible com­fort of feel­ing safe with a per­son; hav­ing nei­ther to weigh thoughts nor mea­sure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain to­gether, know­ing that a faith­ful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keep­ing, and then, with a breath of kind­ness, blow the rest away. – Di­nah MM Craik

LAST week was a great week for South Africa. It might not have felt like it at the Zondo Com­mis­sion into State Cap­ture in Jo­han­nes­burg where some of Juju’s Tele­tub­bies swapped their over­alls for er­satz camo, ADT flak jack­ets and hand­guns, while the rent-a-mob in red did their best to drown out Pravin Gord­han’s tes­ti­mony.

But for a very brief mo­ment I ac­tu­ally agreed with the self­styled “com­man­der-in-chief” when he promised to do an H&M on Mo­men­tum; the story that was bro­ken last Satur­day by for­mer col­league Tanya Water­worth about an in­surer welsh­ing on a R2.4 mil­lion life in­sur­ance pol­icy.

Nathan Ganas was shot dead in an abortive hi­jack­ing two years ago. Mo­men­tum wouldn’t pay be­cause Ganas never dis­closed he had high blood su­gar lev­els – in fact they wanted his widow to repay the R50 000 in­stant cash pay­ment they dis­bursed on his tragic death and which his fam­ily used for his funeral. As crusty for­mer news ed­i­tor Ray Joseph was wont to say: “you can’t make this s*** up”.

Water­worth cov­ered the orig­i­nal tragedy and then kept in touch with the fam­ily, fight­ing for them in the finest tra­di­tions of good old-fash­ioned jour­nal­ism when they had no one else. What hap­pened next was that ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing the EFF C-I-C, jumped on the band­wagon and lit­er­ally cre­ated a mo­men­tum of pub­lic ou­trage that swamped Mo­men­tum.

To their credit, Mo­men­tum saw the er­ror of their ways, re­canted, and did the right thing not just for Denise Ganas and her fam­ily, but for all their other clients who might fall vic­tim to vi­o­lent crime (pro­vided of course that they aren’t in­sured for more than R3 mil­lion).

It was a vic­tory for com­mon sense and for all South Africans screwed over by face­less cor­po­rates, call cen­tres and clerks specif­i­cally cho­sen for their bovine in­dif­fer­ence and stud­ied in­com­pe­tence.

This was a par­tic­u­larly egre­gious ex­am­ple of cal­lous­ness and prof­i­teer­ing, but there are so many oth­ers that we all live through ev­ery day. I sat at ORT last Satur­day for al­most four hours af­ter BA de­layed a flight to Liv­ing­stone.

Af­ter­wards I was asked to fill in a ques­tion­naire to “share my ex­pe­ri­ence” with them, on the pro­viso that they wouldn’t be able to re­spond to me, but would share my feed­back with their “rel­e­vant in­ter­nal teams”. Truly.

That’s about as use­ful as a one­legged man in an arse-kick­ing con­test, but you can see how that at­ti­tude would ul­ti­mately trans­late to welsh­ing on pay­ing out a life in­sur­ance pol­icy where you died in a hail of bul­lets, be­cause you had high blood pres­sure – be­cause that’s what the le­gal fine print al­lows. Not for noth­ing is the law an ass and high-level ex­ec­u­tives to­tally out of touch with the lived re­al­ity of their os­ten­si­ble cus­tomers.

Talk­ing of asses, by Wed­nes­day we were back to the faux rev­o­lu­tion­ar­ies in Park­town squeal­ing against those lift­ing the lid on the sup­pu­rat­ing mess of state cap­ture, be­fore get­ting into their lux­ury Ger­man peo­ple car­ri­ers.

Maybe it’s time their or­di­nary mem­bers read the fine print on what they signed up for too. I HAVE the most ter­ri­ble dif­fi­culty drop­ping off to sleep at night. The con­di­tion has de­vel­oped from a de­pen­dency on tablets whose names con­tained pre­fixes like “dormi” and end­ings like “-noct” and “-cum”.

This de­pen­dency left me with the vi­cious legacy of the “halflife” con­tained in each of these nos­tra. It meant that I was still suf­fi­ciently se­dated to sleep spon­ta­neously at any time dur­ing the fol­low­ing day.

And I ro­man­ti­cised this ter­ri­ble con­di­tion by jok­ing that I was only catch­ing a “zizz”.

Clas­sic de­nial.

In one sense, the wake­ful nights worked in my favour while I pur­sued fur­ther stud­ies. I could lit­er­ally burn the mid­night oil.

My re­sults were al­ways good, but they came at a bit­ter price: sleep­less­ness. It also cre­ated the need for ton­ics and pick-me-ups dur­ing the day­light hours.

Of­ten these en­ergy boosts took the form of booze.

Lately, when I seek help for this un­en­vi­able con­di­tion, I am given ad­vice that is so glar­ingly ob­vi­ous that I could spit blood.

They tell me not to sleep dur­ing the day and to make my body tired to­wards bed time by do­ing phys­i­cally tax­ing things.

And this to a per­son whose only ex­er­cise is jump­ing to con­clu­sions.

The ad­vice to stay awake dur­ing the day was dou­bly ironic be­cause of the decades of in­gest­ing sleep­ing tablets. The with­drawal from chem­i­cal de­pen­dence is as hard as it is haz­ardous.

The chill­ing term “cold turkey” comes to mind. Peo­ple have been known to die from a sud­den, un­chore­ographed ces­sa­tion of chem­i­cal or other de­pen­dence. It re­quires med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion.

Ad­vice for the con­di­tion in­cludes drink­ing scented teas, like chamomile. Or luke­warm milk.

Also, they say: if you can­not sleep, do not count sheep. Talk to the shep­herd.

What it boils down to is not a pathol­ogy but our own flawed process of so­cial­i­sa­tion. God cre­ated the world in di­ur­nal mode. Sun­light hours were for gain­ful em­ploy­ment. The night is de­signed for the re­cov­ery of spent strength through sleep. The set­ting sun is the sig­nal for go­ing to sleep.

But we messed with that by length­en­ing the hours of pro­duc­tion by in­tro­duc­ing ar­ti­fi­cial sun­light. The im­proved night-light­ing gave us im­proved pro­duc­tiv­ity. “Over­time” and “dou­ble time” meant in­creased earn­ings even as it ig­nored the wrench to the psy­che. Such is the im­pe­tus of the profit mo­tive and ma­te­rial gain.

It doesn’t take rocket science to see how mankind would evolve agen­cies to both in­duce and evade nat­u­ral sleep. This in it­self spawned an­other lu­cra­tive in­dus­try.

Our teach­ers to­day epit­o­mise that di­chotomy.

They need to take sleep­ing and calm­ing tablets to heal the rav­ages of the day. Come the morn­ing, they reach for ton­ics and pick-me­ups and help-me-copes.

No won­der when we die the ul­ti­mate so­lace is for us to Re­qui­escat in pace: Rest in peace.

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